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Micheletti Confident that US Will Back Vote and that He Will Arrest President Zelaya if He Leaves Embassy

November 24, 2009

* Micheletti confident U.S. will support Nov. 29 election

* De facto Honduran leader says made no mistakes in coup

By Mica Rosenberg and Gustavo Palencia

TEGUCIGALPA, Nov 23 (Reuters) – The de facto leader who took power in Honduras after a June coup is confident the United States will recognize a Nov. 29 presidential election and help end the country’s international isolation.

Roberto Micheletti, a conservative lawmaker sworn into office hours after soldiers exiled leftist President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, told Reuters that if the United States recognizes the vote, other countries could follow suit.

“Panama already said it would recognize us. The United States will recognize us. Two countries that are important to us: one close in the region, the other the most powerful country in the world,” Micheletti said on Monday at the presidential palace where he runs the de facto government.

Neither Micheletti nor Zelaya — who has been holed up inside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since he snuck back into the country in September — are running for president.

But after a U.S.-backed deal to settle Central America’s worst political crisis in decades broke down this month over whether Zelaya can be temporarily returned to power, some Latin American nations threatened not to recognize the vote result.

Washington — which condemned the coup — has not given an official position on the election, but has suggested it will support the outcome whether or not Zelaya is reinstated.

The coup sparked international outrage and gave President Barack Obama a foreign policy headache in Latin America, a region where he has pledged to improve ties. Some countries froze aid to the impoverished coffee and banana producer.

The gruff white-haired Micheletti said he would not have done anything differently, however. “There were no mistakes in the process,” he said.

Micheletti plans to step down before the election, on Nov. 25, and return on Dec. 2. He says he will abide by an agreement between the rival sides to let Congress be the body that decides if Zelaya can return to office to see out his term.

“If Congress decides Mr. Zelaya can come back, in that moment I will step down and he can take office,” Micheletti said. “I don’t think that will happen.” He said if Congress decides against Zelaya’s return, he will stay in office until a new president is sworn in on Jan. 27.

Congress, which Micheletti headed before the coup, voted to strip Zelaya of his powers in June after the Supreme Court ruled he violated the constitution in what critics called a veiled bid to extend presidential term limits.

A wealthy rancher who had angered business leaders by growing close to Venezuela’s socialist president, Hugo Chavez, Zelaya denies the charge. He says any election organized by Micheletti’s government will be illegal.

Micheletti is also standing firm against his rival, saying he will be arrested if he sets foot outside the embassy.

“Everyone who has committed a crime should pay,” Micheletti said. “If he is prepared to leave there and show his face in court, than I would consider that the correct thing to do.

(Additional reporting by Tomas Sarmiento; Editing by Catherine Bremer and Doina Chiacu) ((For possible scenarios, click on: [ID:nN23252618])) ((mica.rosenberg@thomsonreuters.com; +52 55 5282 7153; Reuters Messaging: mica.rosenberg.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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2 Comments
  1. Reality Check permalink
    November 24, 2009 2:38 PM

    The democracy and the constitution of Honduras are both doing fine.

    Those who would like to make up “new” and “improved” ways to amend the constitution of Honduras are the ones who are becoming irrelevant to the politics in Honduras.

    Honduras is a two major political party country similar to the United States.

    The guy hiding in the Brazilian embassy in Honduras was nominated by, and Elected President as the candidate of one of those parties. In his case it was the Liberal Party.

    The congress of Honduras is also currently controlled by the Liberal party.

    The current defacto President is a member of the same Liberal political party.

    The Liberal party candidate for President was nominated by the political party of the guy hiding in the Brazilian embassy before he, the guy hiding in the Brazilian embasy, was forced out of office and replaced by the Supreme Court and Congress of Honduras.

    Both the member of the Liberal Party running for President, and the Member of the Liberal party who was the head of congress, supported the removal of the then President who was from their same political party, the Liberal party. Why? Because he was trying to illegally change the constitution of Honduras which they had all taken an oath to defend. A member of the same Liberal Party was selected by congress to replace the guy hiding in the Brazilian embassy after he was removed by order of the Supreme Court of Honduras.

    The Liberal party candidate for President was ahead in the polls before the guy he was trying to replace, a member of his own party, decided to make up a new and improved way to change the constitution of Honduras.

    The Liberal party is still participating in the election and hopes to still win the Presidency again. The Liberal party candidate supported the removal of the guy currently hiding in the Brazilian embassy ( the crazy guy from his same party ).

    Those who would like to illegally change the constitution are claiming a wide spread boycott of the election by the opposition political parties. This is at best misleading – the only parties even considering boycotting are minor parties that get less than 10% of the vote historically and never had a chance to win any way. The party of the guy hiding in the embassy, the Liberal Party, IS NOT boycotting and they still hope to win.

    Either the liberal candidate or the conservative candidate will win the election in a few days and one or the other will be the elected President of Honduras starting in January.

    The guy hiding in the Embassy, may, or may not, get back in office, under adult supervision to avoid any more attempts to illegally change the Honduran constitution, for some period of time before January.

    But his dreams of illegally changing the constitution while he is the elected President of Honduras are history.

    • November 25, 2009 10:15 AM

      Bet you can’t wait for the Honduran storm troopers to suit up and load their guns — just 4 more days.

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